Ongoing Project:

Addressing Domestic Violence in Refugee Families in Waterloo Region: Towards a Culturally Integrated Approach to Family Conflict Management

Researchers: Dillion Browne1, Jean de Dieu Basabose2, Jackson Smith1, Michael Stephenson2
Whole Family Laboratory, University of Waterloo1, Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre2
Research Partner:
Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre
Keywords: refugee families, culturally integrated approaches, domestic violence, family conflict, Waterloo region, evaluation, intervention


Overview: This study seeks to understand the causes and underlying factors of domestic violence (DV) in refugee families in the Waterloo region, and its impact on integration and wellbeing. 

Objective: to explore the problem of domestic violence in refugee families, to review and critically evaluate the effectiveness of existing strategies for tackling it, and to propose an alternative culturally integrated approach to managing family conflicts non-violently. 

Research Justification: Research concerning domestic violence (DV) and the experiences of refugees is sparse despite concerns from service providers and policymakers that these communities are experiencing violence that is negatively affecting wellbeing and the chances of successful settlement. Refugee families experience multiple migration stressors and enculturation and/or acculturation which can potentially create emotional tensions and conflicts that may result in DV. Additionally, the host community may not have the structures or cultural competency to help refugee families respond to DV effectively and appropriately.


This study uses a community-based participatory research approach by working closely with Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre, which provides health services to over 5000 refugee patients in Waterloo Region. The Family Systems Theory, Socio-ecological Model, and Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (BDMIS) will provide the theoretical framework for this study.

The research team will review existing approaches to addressing domestic violence (DV) in Canada and their relevance, effectiveness, and appropriateness for use with refugee newcomers. The team will then develop training materials to promote a culturally integrated approach to family conflict and implement the experimental interventions. Finally, the research team will evaluate the effectiveness of the culturally integrated approach.

Explore more projects

Go to Top